Two hashtags #PMModiHelpIntlStudents and #takeUsBackToChina are trending on Twitter as students are aggressively tweeting and requesting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s intervention. Thousands of students are stranded in India, with no clarity as to when Beijing will lift travel restrictions. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they have been forced to pursue their degree through online mode. However, this “new normal” in the educational field has its own limitations. The lack of hands-on experience and practical classes is now forcing students to question their own competency as future doctors if online education persists for long.
A huge chunk of students travels overseas to pursue their undergraduate or postgraduate education in the field of medicine. China is one such country where Indians prefer to pursue their MBBS education. However, last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, both semesters were conducted through online mode. Due to the second wave of coronavirus, there is no sign of Beijing lifting a ban on travel restrictions for overseas students, especially Indian students.
The prolonged and unending wait for the resumption of offline classes compelled students to bombard the social media platform with tweets. Students expressed their anguish about the lack of clarity on when China will uplift the travel ban. The neighbour’s inability to resume physical classes in 2020 was justified. But students now are ardently waiting for deadlines after which physical classes may resume.
Earlier this year, most Chinese applications were banned by the Indian government. Due to this, students have been forced to install a VPN to access online classes. However, despite all these facilities, online classes cannot entirely substitute offline classes, especially in the case of medical education.
Students are appealing to Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister of India, to look into this matter, possibly intervene and put this uncertainty to rest. In June 2021, students had written a letter about the same problem, addressed to the PM. The letter was written by a group of 25,000 Indian students pursuing education in Chinese universities. According to the letter, these students were forced to pursue their education online for the last 17 months due to various travel and visa restrictions.
Medical education requires a lot of hands-on experience, practical and group work. However, the Indian students’ entry to China and its respective universities have been banned for the past one and half years, the letter specified. The Indian embassy in China could also not help in this matter. As of now, Chinese authorities have not provided any clear directions.
According to reports, more than 23,000 Indian students were enrolled in different courses at various Chinese universities. Out of the total Indian students, 21,000 were enrolled for the MBBS course. Students have also been complaining about costly fee structures and in some cases, paying for hostel fees in spite of online education. Despite the incessant requests by Indian students, the government is yet to respond or intervene in this matter.